Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Ode to Joy: Frank O' Hara

Frank O' Hara calls to something deeply teenaged and romantic in me that I reserve nearly exclusively for good writing. At the same time he is speaking to many of the disparate thoughts swirling in my noggin these days: the construction of symbols, the meaning of distractions, the strange and bawdy terror of love and death.
His images, meanwhile, resonate and encapsulate beautifully the mundane beauties and uglyness of everyday life, like paper dioramas of Blake-ian die cuts.
If you like music with your poetry and would rather listen, try this and gaze at his handsome mug.
Or simply read below.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Mike Tyson, former rapist, now fucks up some pigeons

So, you may remember a post I did not so long ago about Mike Tyson, and Hollywood normalizing rape by embracing him and putting him in movies and award shows?
Well, now he's got his own reality TV show on Animal Planet, where he will race pigeons that are allegedly "cherished and respected by their owners".
PETA has a problem with this, and for good reason, but more importantly, EVERYONE should be concerned that a violent convicted rapist is now starring in a family oriented show.
But most people think it's funny instead of indicative of a larger problem in Hollywood.
What does it mean that we let unapologetic rapists have television shows? What does that tell young boys and girl about the consequences and meanings of this crime? What does it mean that the only outrage I can find on the Internet (a series of tubes, btw) is coming from animal rights groups? With a marginal exception of Amelie Gillette of the AV Club's Hater, I see/ hear no commentary from people with a problem with this from a feminist perspective.
While Amelie comments on the similarity (of phenomena and cultural taste) between Tyson's show and O.J.Simpson's proposed reality show Juiced and concludes that murderers should not get shows, she fails to fully come down on the idea of Tyson's show, and sorts of aquiesces to her guest on the Hate Cast who wonders "What else is [Tyson] going to do?"
Right, because the ONLY thing he can do is hope to get on television.
While other sites are putting up pictures to accompany this story of Tyson nuzzling birds, the only acceptable image for me is this one.

No more Animal Planet for me, that's for fucking sure.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

"You are the beautiful half/ Of a golden hurt."- Gwendolyn Brooks, Badass.

If you have never read her, do so, now. Probably most famous for her "We Real Cool" a study in colloquial rhythms and social constraints, replete with bravado and place names like "The Golden Shovel".

She says, beautifully, about the structure:
"The WEs in "We Real Cool" are tiny, wispy, weakly argumentative "Kilroy-is-here" announcements. The boys have no accented sense of themselves, yet they are aware of a semi-defined personal importance. Say the "We" softly."

She is also very well known for the wrenching poem "The Mother" which I will forewarn you is like a kick to the stomach. When I read those last lines, I am seized with terror and sadness, as they hit too close to home, too close to what I am most afraid of. It strokes the heart to fiercely, leaves indentations.

But I love her most for her portraits of urban life, especially that of women. Though some might see her as belonging to the Womanist school, I feel that boils down her complexity and fails to see her interactionist framework.

My Dreams, My Works, Must Wait Till After Hell

I hold my honey and I store my bread
In little jars and cabinets of my will.
I label clearly, and each latch and lid
I bid, Be firm till I return from hell.
I am very hungry. I am incomplete.
And none can give me any word but Wait,
The puny light. I keep my eyes pointed in;
Hoping that, when the devil days of my hurt
Drag out to their last dregs and I resume
On such legs as are left me, in such heart
As I can manage, remember to go home,
My taste will not have turned insensitive
To honey and bread old purity could love

Why I Won't Go See "The Ghostwriter"

"If men define situations as real, they are real in their consequences"
W.I. Thomas

Roman Polanski, director of The Ghostwriter

I know many of you assume it's because of my aversion to all things Ewan McGregor
but it's really because I don't want to participate in the normalization of rape by Hollywood.

I think it's pretty well established that Hollywood is adamantly anti-woman, but when people there (and in general of course) qualify what Polanski did as ok because
1) "it was a long time ago" and it was "a little mistake"
2) it "wasn't RAPE rape"

3) Dude, they totes had sex before and it was consensual
4) where the fuck was her mother in all this?
or any other lame-ass excuse it makes me really angry.
These are relativistic arguments that go beyond the atomization of larger socio-structural forces and into the territory where they don't even cite personal responsibility of the person who committed the act. Instead, all personal responsibility is ascribed to the CHILD or the mother as apparently men just can't help themselves from drugging and raping children so let's just alleviate them of the blame.

The fabulous writers over at Sociological Images offer their critique of the above The View clip:
Notice that part of her defense (about about 0:30) is that they’d had sex before, which seems to preclude the possibility that he could have raped her (and assumes that those previous times were consensual and that sex with a 13-year-old is okay as long as it was consensual).
At about 2:05 she appears to make a sort of cultural relativist argument, saying that we’re a “different kind of society,” while in other places, including “the rest of Europe,” 13- and 14-year-olds are sexualized. That is, of course, entirely true (that girls at 13/14 have been treated as marriageable/sexual, not that this is specifically true “in the rest of Europe”), both historically and now (my great-grandma married a 22-year-old man when she’d just barely turned 15). There are a lot of interesting points there, but Goldberg doesn’t seem to be making a complex argument–she seems to be saying “in some places this would be okay, so we shouldn’t punish him.”

At 3:15 they discuss the responsibility of the mother, asking what kind of mom would let a young girl go alone with an older man. It’s a very appropriate question to ask. And my guess is: lots of parents in Hollywood, if the older man was an influential director who said he had set up a photo shoot for a major fashion magazine for your daughter. That, of course, is horrid; at the very least it’s extreme denial (“oh, he’s so nice, he just wants to help her get her big chance because he sees something special in her”), at worst it’s actively offering sexual access to your child for a chance at stardom.

I can’t see, however, that it in any way changes the situation regarding Polanski. And the use of excuses like “they’d had sex before, so it couldn’t be rape” is stunning to me.
When we buy art from people who are known rapists do we contribute to the normalization of rape?

I know this, I don't feel good doing so.
When Mike Tyson was in The Hangover I was really upset because I felt like this was giving him an avenue to wider social acceptance and thereby ignoring or dismissing the fact that he is a straight up unapologetic rapist.

We also have to remember the fact that The Hangover was heavily marketed to adolescent boys (of body and mind) and that this portrayal and subsequent embrace by Hollywood significantly reduces the (deserving and usually effective)stigma that acts as a means of social control, undoubtedly creating paths of rationalization that allow us to first celebrate convicted rapists and possibly dismiss the seriousness and damage of the act itself.
Jane Claire Bradley, writer and editor, articulates it succinctly:
To me, it seems sickeningly inappropriate that a convicted rapist should be glorified to an audience predominantly made up of adolescent boys ... I can only conclude that this casting decision was an intentionally provocative one, and that just makes it all the more offensive.
Just what the fuck is "RAPE rape" anyway?

When we define rape narrowly, what we are really doing is empowering rapists.
When we define rapists as deserving of praise, we essentially negate the act of rape they commit.
So, I guess what I'm saying is that Polanski and Tyson are free to make art, but we are also free to not consume it.
I don't buy from companies I find morally compromised, why should I buy from artists that are?
I'm sure someone will take this argument and point out that it could be expanded to include people who are assholes in general but that loses sight of the fact that there are huge implications and consequences (externalities) when we normalize rape. Not so much when we don't buy art from just your average artist asshole.
What do you think?

6/11/10 update:
Natalia Antonova, occasional guest blogger at Feministe says in her blog post about Russian artist fucking asshole Ilya Trushevsky beautifully what I struggled to say earlier. Apparently Trushevsky who is accused of an attempted rape of a 17-year-old, just got a special "Moral Support Prize" from Winzavod Contemporary Art Center a big-time venue in Moscow. She writes:

The award was presented publicly. By a dude who had previously referred to the 17-year-old girl who was beaten and sexually assaulted as a “drunk cow.” And I’m not going to use the phrase “alleged victim” here, because Trushevsky was pretty open about what happened on his Facebook & LJ. He made fun of her bruises. The media reported that he admitted what happened to the cops.

The stated point of the Moral Support Prize (I feel dumber every time I type it out, truth be told), apparently, is to show solidarity with artists who are in trouble. “REMEMBER, HE’S AN ARTIST! We should still totally hang out with him and do coke, or whatever” – that sort of thing. It always strikes me as really interesting, how someone inevitably thinks that these gestures are very important to make when a Guy Who Glues Rhinestones to Turtles Great Artist is involved. Please won’t somebody think of the Goddamn Rhinestone-Covered Turtles ART?!

What bothers me about that – aside from priorities that are just as messed up as the “but we can’t let the parish know that there’s a predator priest in our midst, it’s bad PR, gaiz” thing – is that a particular artistic community indicts itself when it engages in such apologist hand-wringing. The art should be able to stand on its own. Always. And in many cases, it does. “Rosemary’s Baby” is still a good movie. The fact that I’m somehow “supposed” to defend Polanski because I think it’s a good movie is, on the other hand, idiotic. I’ll defend him to people who think he’s a crappy director – because he’s not. But those pesky laws that dictate that it’s illegal to rape people weren’t created as a springboard for a referendum on some Great Man’s Great Work.

Via Feminste

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

My favorite comment about the Oscars

Noel Murray of the AV Club
"I want to tread lightly here, but from the red carpet onward, I grew increasingly irritated by the way people talked to or about Gabourey Sidibe: always pointing out how “beautiful” and “inspiring” she was, and suchlike. Even Sandra Bullock in her otherwise well-calibrated Best Actress acceptance speech lingered on Gabby in her kudos to the losing nominees. Sidibe is a good actress. Her performance in Precious stands alone, and is even more remarkable when contrasted with the bubbly personality she’s shown in interviews over the past year. I don’t know that she’ll ever be an Oscar nominee again, but I’ve no doubt that Sidibe will be able to find steady acting work for the near future, whether or not red-carpet hostesses think she’s “amazing.” In short: she doesn’t need their overcompensation. She’s not mentally handicapped; she’s obese. They can talk to her like an actress, not like the subject of a human-interest story."

full article here

Friday, March 5, 2010

More Crazy from the AV Club comment boards

a few months ago I brought you this which still makes me laugh out loud. I think the dude is back:

To me the greatest appeal of gaining supernatural powers is the endless sexual possibilities that opens up


3 March 2010 | 12:37 AM CST

It would be pretty awesome to have healing powers crossed with the ability to manipualte matter so I could use my powers to safely amputate and cauterize my gf's limbs and have all kinds of crazy amputee sex with her (it's really annoying how "amputee porn" is something of a porn cliche yet it is nearly IMPOSSIBLE to find online and when you do it's either greasy poorly lit 70's porn or on a specialty site that costs 50 bucks a month). Give her some scuba gear and mount her so that it's like I'm a mouse riding a cork on the ocean, grab an oar and wear a captains hat and pretend I am an intrepid explorer.

Of course if the coast guard apprehended me and asked me what the fuck I was doing I could do the whole Jedi mind trick "move along, this is completely normal consensual activity" thing and they'd salute and send me on my merry way.

When we reached shore I could pogo stick home and then I'd reattach her limbs and she'd cuddle up on the sofa with me as we watched the directors cut of Blade Runner.

This, btw, on a post about Richard Kelley's horrible piece of horribleness The Box from Nathan Rabin's brilliant series "My Year of Flops".